21 December 2009

Doing the Dubler - Part 2

So we got up early and headed to Galway on the west coast of Ireland. The bus ride was beautiful but I couldn’t stay awake. We got into the town around 3pm and met Jenny’s friend Brett. He studied for the semester in Galway so he took us on a tour of the town after we dropped our luggage off at the hostel. The first thing we saw was the river running through the middle of the town. It’s the fastest running river in Europe! It was definitely no joke, but the picture doesn’t make it look very impressive. There were no rails, so instead there are “ringboys” all along the edge, which is just what they call lifesavers.

It really only took about a half an hour to walk around, but I really loved the small-town feel. People were all incredibly nice. Then we had delicious fish and chips at a tavern. Cian, my Irish friend, also put on my list of tasks “eat fish and chips with brown sauce.” So after getting my steaming hot plate, I told Brett that I wanted some brown sauce for my chips. He was like “ok, but you need to ask her.” I wasn’t really sure why, but I went with it. It took me at least five attempts to get her attention. At IU my friends say I sound like I’m meowing when I say m’am, so needless to say getting waitresses attention can be challenging for me. I finally get her to come over to the table, and I ask, “May I have some brown sauce please?” She looks at me like I’m an idiot. The only response I get is “ok.” Then Brett informs me that it’s really weird to eat brown sauce with fish and chips. Thanks Cian! Apparently you’re the only one who does that, but you know what, I thought it was good. The brown sauce is basically like worcheshire sauce. Not bad on French fries! 

Then we went and met some of Brett’s friends at a coffee shop. We ended up talking to these two girls Katie and Sarah quite a bit and because Brett had to work on papers, they decided to show us the local pubs. They were so picturesque in Galway. There were people playing live traditional Irish music while I sipped a coffee with Bailey’s by the fire! It was so much fun!

The next morning we headed to the coach station with our suitcases to see the Cliffs of Moher. Apparently only Jenny and I had signed up for the tour with our company so they had us join a different tour group. Our guide Peter was witty and so knowledgeable. First he drove us through the Burren and gave us some basic knowledge. The Burren is around 350 square kilometers of exposed limestone hills, but the interesting part is that this area contains 80% of the plant life of Ireland as a result of the high levels of nutrients in the stone, and its ability to hold warmth. It’s absolutely beautiful, raw, and enchanting land.

A part of the tour that we joined was a walking tour through a farm on the Burren. We had to pay another 8 Euros to go, and honestly I was a little skeptical. I’m so glad that I did it. It was lightly raining when we arrived, but John, the attractive, rugged, Irish farmer, took the group to a room full of rain gear and had us suit up. We put pants over our pants, jackets over our jackets, wellies over our shoes, and wollies our hair (wellies= rainboots, wollies = wool sock hats). I thought, “this seems excessive, but ok.” I could not have been more wrong. Once we got to the top of the hill the rain was beating my face and the wind actually knocked me over. But it was still one of the coolest experiences of the trip to get off the bus and experience the terrain. From the bus it looks like it’s just rock but once you’re up there there’s crazy plant life everywhere.

After the walking tour we got back on the bus and headed to a set of small cliffs for a photo stop. I thought they were amazing, but I didn’t even know how much cooler it would get.

Then we got to the Cliffs of Moher. It was such a beautiful, mystical place. It was weird, but there was something almost spiritual about that place. I felt overwhelmed by the nature God created. It was so simple, yet so breathtaking. It just made me think about the intricate artwork, we humans create. Honestly that art will never be adequate in comparison to what God made from the earth. I don’t even know if that makes sense, but that’s how I felt in the moment.

On the tallest cliff there’s a Tower with green grass coming down from it, and I’ve never seen grass look like that. It was long, but blown down by the wind. It looked like velvet and it was so enchanting.

After that overwhelming experience, we went and saw a 5800-year-old dolmen! The wonders of the Burren are never ending! A dolmen is an ancient burial site, in which the people built a hill over the body and then placed stones on top of it. Honestly I had no idea that Art History class at the beginning of my time in Spain would be this useful. But it makes me feel really good whenever I can actually identify and understand things that like.

After the tour we were exhausted so we slept all the way to Dublin and then headed straight to the hostel to go to bed! The next morning was our last day in Dublin so we decided to try and hit the things we had missed before. Our first stop was Merrion Square. You know those Doors of Dublin calendars? Well all those doors from a square around a little park, and that’s Merrion Square.

A ton of literary figures have lived there, like Oscar Wilde and Yeats. There’s even a statue of Oscar in the park so I had to continue my homage to Mr. Wilde and take my picture with his statue (last year I kissed his grave in Paris).

It was another sunny day in Dublin so Jenny couldn’t resist soaking up the sun in the park, and it was the perfect opportunity for a shadow group pic!

That night we continued our Christmas spirit and walked to the other side of the river to see the Christmas lights, and then we went and saw a Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey. It was a nice, relaxing way to end the trip because we had to get up at 4am the next day to head to the airport. Ireland was amazing. I highly recommend it to anyone!

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